Pullman, WA - Washington State (11-3, 1-1) evened their Pac-10 record with a hard fought victory over a tenacious Oregon State (6-7, 0-2) team by the final score of 65-60.
Similar to their game in Seattle, the Beavers were in this one right down to the very end of the game. In fact, Coach Craig Robinson saw his team do just about everything right, with just one exception: OSU couldn't outscore the Cougs.
Coming off their double-overtime loss two nights ago to Oregon, everyone wondered how this young WSU team would play.
Coach Ken Bone 's team played good basketball with just a couple of exceptions, earning their first Pac-10 win of the season. Yes, the victory was the first Pac-10 win for the Coug's new head coach as well.
Oregon State did a good job of controlling the pace of the game, keeping the Cougs under 70 points. The Beavers used plenty of shot clock time on offense to cut down on the number of possessions for each team in the game. They also did a good job of tempting WSU to take open three-point shots. The Cougs didn't succumb to the temptation and simply worked for a good shot when forced into their half court game.
Just how patient were the Cougars on offense? They finished the game 22 of 42 from the floor for a solid 52.4 percent. When WSU did try three-point shots, they were successful on 5 of 12 attempts, again a very solid 41.7 percent.
The other area where Washington State excelled in this game was on the defensive end of the court. They forced Oregon State into numerous shots outside of their range which proved to be the difference in the game. Coach Robinson's team has one glaring weakness. OSU is not a very good outside shooting team.
Where the Cougs stumbled, keeping the game close, was at the free throw line. Washington State entered the game as the best free throw shooting team in the conference. Saturday evening they looked like one of the worst teams at the foul line going a surprising 16 of 29. Please don't pause to do the math on what percentage that is. Simply put, it wasn't good.
Enough of the statistical analysis.
Washington State played good, fundamental basketball and they played as a team.
It's important to point out the Cougs also won a game on a night when Klay Thompson never got into the offensive flow of the game. Thompson was on the bench much more than usual, though not as a coach's decision. He picked up his fourth foul with 8:55 left in the game, forcing Coach Bone to sit him down.
Klay came back with 5:38 to go, but didn't last long. Less than a minute later he went over the back of a Beaver and was whistled for his fifth and final foul.
"I thought we played with some good composure. I thought our guys did a good job handling the situation. We were able to win on a night when we did not convert from the line and Klay Thompson did not have one of his better games. It shows that we're becoming a better basketball team." - WSU Coach Ken Bone
This young Cougar team's performance was punctuated by some career-best efforts which were overshadowed by the way the group played as a team. To put it another way, every Cougar player made a significant contribution while on the floor in this game.
- Reggie Moore scored a new career-high 19 points, which was also game-high tonight
- Marcus Capers pulled down 10 rebounds, a career best added to his 10 points also marked his first collegiate double-double
- James Watson contributed valuable minutes and enjoyed scoring a career-high 7 points
Sound defense and enough offense put this one in the win column for Washington State. A good way to begin the new year before they get set to travel to Arizona for their next two conference games.
Post Game Note
Washington State athletic director Jim Sterk has made a formal request the Pac-10 review the WSU-Oregon game officiating. WSU was assessed a technical foul when players celebrated what appeared to be a game-winning bucket by DeAngelo Casto went through the net with just 0.3 seconds left on the game clock. The technical foul gave Oregon a chance to extend the game by sinking two free throws...which Tajuan Porter did.
Sterk doesn't expect much to come from his request but could not let the "strange" call go without some level of recognition from the league office.
Originally published in Lew Wright's WSU Sports column on Examiner.com